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Nigerian man arrested, accused of laundering real estate cash

| Monday, June 11, 2018, 1:21 p.m.

A Nigerian man whom prosecutors say was at the center of a western Pennsylvania based email scam has been arrested by authorities in Nigeria, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today

Taiwo Musiliudeen Idris is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to prosecutors.

According to Brady, Idris was arrested after he and four others conspired to launder over $411,000 in real estate proceeds they had obtained using a business email compromise scheme.

According to court documents, a Maryland based real estate settlement company was fraudulently instructed by Idris to send sale proceeds to a bank account set up in western Pennsylvania instead of to seller's bank accounts.

Prosecutors say Idris, on April 29, 2016, sent false account information to the settlement company while claiming to represent a real estate seller.

“Deception is at the heart of every business e-mail compromise or CEO impersonation scheme. Attackers gain access to a corporate e-mail account and then spoof the owner's identity to defraud the company or its employees, customer or partners of money,” Brady said in a release. “We are committed to identifying and prosecuting anyone who uses the internet to financially exploit western Pennsylvania businesses and citizens.”

Four other men involved, Ismail Shitu, Nathanael Nyamekye, Adnan Ibrahim, and Akintayo Bolorunduro, have also been charged.

Shitu, Ibrahim, and Bolorunduro have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering charges. Bolorunduro was sentenced to over five years in prison, Shitu and Ibrahim are scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 15. Nyamekye has a trial scheduled for September.

According to investigators, businesses can avoid becoming victims by applying some due diligence.

“These types of schemes are constantly evolving as criminals become more sophisticated in targeting their victims,” Chad Yarbrough, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Pittsburgh FBI field office, said in a release. “The best way to avoid being taken advantage of is to verify the authenticity of requests before they are carried out.”

Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675, or via Twitter @matthew_medsger.

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